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College of Professional and Global Education · School of Information

Archives and Manuscripts
INFO 256

  • Fall 2023
  • Section 11
  • 3 Unit(s)
  • 08/21/2023 to 12/06/2023
  • Modified 08/20/2023

Canvas Information

This course will be available on Canvas beginning August 19th, 6 am PT.

You will be enrolled in the Canvas site automatically.

Contact Information

Dr. James Hodges
Office Hours: Held via Zoom or phone. Scheduled by appointment. Weekly drop-in hours TBD. 

Course Information

Course seminars via Zoom: Orientation seminar will be held on Friday, August 25 at 3:00 PM Eastern (12:00 PM Pacific). Mid-semester seminar will be held on Monday, October 17 at 3:00 PM Eastern (12:00 PM Pacific).

Participation in the seminars is strongly encouraged but not mandatory. Sessions will be recorded. Zoom information will be on the course site.

Course Description and Requisites

An introduction to the theory and practice of managing archival documents, such as personal papers, institutional records, photographs, electronic records, and other unpublished material. Topics covered include manuscript and records acquisition and appraisal, arrangement and description, conservation and preservation, reference and access.

In addition to basic theory and practice, students will be introduced to the variety of types of archival institutions, both in the United States and abroad.


INFO 200, INFO 202, INFO 204.

Classroom Protocols


Students are expected to participate fully in all class activities. It is expected that students will be open-minded and participate fully in discussions in class and debate in a mature and respectful manner. Use of derogatory, condescending, or offensive language including profanity is prohibited. Disagreement is healthy and perfectly acceptable. Expressing disagreement should always include an explanation of your reasoning and, whenever possible, evidence to support your position. In accordance with San José State University's Policies, the Student Code of Conduct, and applicable state and federal laws, discrimination based on gender, gender identity, gender expression, race, nationality, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or disability is prohibited in any form.

Program Information

Course Workload

Success in this course is based on the expectation that students will spend, for each unit of credit, a minimum of forty-five hours over the length of the course (normally 3 hours per unit per week with 1 of the hours used for lecture) for instruction or preparation/studying or course-related activities including but not limited to internships, labs, clinical practica. Other course structures will have equivalent workload expectations as described in the syllabus.

Instructional time may include but is not limited to:
Working on posted modules or lessons prepared by the instructor; discussion forum interactions with the instructor and/or other students; making presentations and getting feedback from the instructor; attending office hours or other synchronous sessions with the instructor.

Student time outside of class:
In any seven-day period, a student is expected to be academically engaged through submitting an academic assignment; taking an exam or an interactive tutorial, or computer-assisted instruction; building websites, blogs, databases, social media presentations; attending a study group; contributing to an academic online discussion; writing papers; reading articles; conducting research; engaging in small group work.

Course Goals

Core Competencies (Program Learning Outcomes) Supported

INFO 256 supports the following core competencies:

  1. C Articulate the importance of designing programs and services supportive of diversity, inclusion, and equity for clientele and employees.
  2. F Use the basic concepts and principles related to the selection, evaluation, organization, and preservation of physical and digital information items.
  3. G Demonstrate understanding of basic principles and standards involved in organizing information such as classification and controlled vocabulary systems, cataloging systems, metadata schemas or other systems for making information accessible to a particular clientele.

Course Learning Outcomes (CLOs)

Upon successful completion of the course, students will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate an understanding of basic archival principles and practices.
  2. Describe the variety of functions performed by archives and archivists, and the range of environments in which archival professionals work.
  3. Identify the issues involved in acquiring, processing, and making records available to researchers.
  4. Identify the similarities and differences between the roles of archivists and related information professionals.
  5. Define the challenges facing the archives profession today and in the future.

Course Materials


No Textbooks For This Course.

Course Requirements and Assignments

Assignments must be submitted by 11:59 PM Eastern (8:59 PM Pacific) on the due-date. Contact the instructor in the case of serious illness or emergency.

  • Discussions are used to workshop concepts and assignments, as well as to coordinate collaborative work
  • Quizzes are used to evaluate students' understanding of key ideas and terminology
  • A book review is used to deepen students' knowledge of a chosen specialty in the archives/manuscripts field
  • Finding aid assignments are used first to analyze, and then to generate, documentation of an archival collection
Assignment and corresponding weeks CLOs & Competencies

Discussions (20% of grade)

  • Discussion 1: Introductions
    • Weeks 1-2
  • Discussion 2: Appraisal & Acquisitions
    • Weeks 3-4
  • Discussion 3: Purposes & Patrons
    • Weeks 7-8
  • Discussion 4: Ethics
    • Weeks 11-12
  • Discussion 5: Wrap-up
    • Week 14
  • All: CLOs 1-5
  • Discussion 2: Competency F
  • Discussion 3: Competency C
  • Discussion 4: Competency C

Quizzes (20% of grade)

  • Quiz 1: Key Terms & Concepts
    • Week 2
  • Quiz 2: Cumulative Review
    • Weeks 13-14

Book Review (25% of grade)

  • Part 1: Book Review Pitch
    • Week 4
  • Part 2: Completed Review
    • Week 14

Finding Aid (35% of grade)

  • Part 1: Reverse-Engineer a Finding Aid
    • Week 6
  • Part 2: Digital Collection Finding Aid
    • Week 10

Grading Information

The standard SJSU School of Information Grading Scale is utilized for all iSchool courses:

97 to 100A
94 to 96A minus
91 to 93B plus
88 to 90B
85 to 87B minus
82 to 84C plus
79 to 81C
76 to 78C minus
73 to 75D plus
70 to 72D
67 to 69D minus
Below 67F

In order to provide consistent guidelines for assessment for graduate level work in the School, these terms are applied to letter grades:

  • C represents Adequate work; a grade of "C" counts for credit for the course;
  • B represents Good work; a grade of "B" clearly meets the standards for graduate or undergraduate (for BS-ISDA) level work;
    For core courses in the MLIS program (not MARA, Informatics, or BS-ISDA) — INFO 200, INFO 202, INFO 204 — the iSchool requires that students earn a B in the course. If the grade is less than B (B- or lower) after the first attempt you will be placed on administrative probation. You must repeat the class if you wish to stay in the program. If - on the second attempt - you do not pass the class with a grade of B or better (not B- but B) you will be disqualified.
  • A represents Exceptional work; a grade of "A" will be assigned for outstanding work only.

Graduate Students are advised that it is their responsibility to maintain a 3.0 Grade Point Average (GPA). Undergraduates must maintain a 2.0 Grade Point Average (GPA).

University Policies

Per University Policy S16-9 (PDF), relevant university policy concerning all courses, such as student responsibilities, academic integrity, accommodations, dropping and adding, consent for recording of class, etc. and available student services (e.g. learning assistance, counseling, and other resources) are listed on the Syllabus Information web page. Make sure to visit this page to review and be aware of these university policies and resources.

Course Schedule

A detailed calendar will be available on the first day of the course. Due-dates below are subject to minor changes with plenty of notice.

Week Topics Lesson
Assignments & Due-dates


Introduction to Archival Terms, Theories, and Professions, 

Aug 21-Sep 3

Discussion 1: Initial post due 8/30, responses due 9/1

Quiz 1 opens 8/27, due by 9/3

3-4 Appraisal & Acquisitions Sep 4-17

NOTE: Campus closed Sep 4 for Labor Day

Discussion 2: Initial posts due 9/13, responses due 9/15

Book Review Pitch due 9/15


Arrangement and Description Sep 18-Oct 1

"Reverse-Engineer a Finding Aid" due 9/27

Digital Collection Finding Aid Proposal due 9/29

Continue work on Book Review


Archives’ Purposes and Patrons

Oct 2-Oct 15

NOTE: Campus closed Oct. 9 for Indigenous Peoples' Day

Begin work on Digital Collection Finding Aid

Discussion 3: Initial post due 10/11, responses due 10/13

Continue work on Book Review


Digital Archives

Oct 16-Oct 29

Discussion 4: Initial posts due 10/25, responses due 10/27

Continue work on Digital Collection Finding Aid

Continue work on Book Review


Archival Ethics

Oct 30-Nov 12

Discussion 5: Initial posts due 11/8, responses due 11/10

Continue work on Digital Collection Finding Aid

Continue work on Book Review


Outreach and Engagement

Nov 13-Nov 26

NOTE: Campus closed Nov. 23-24 for Thanksgiving

Digital Collection Finding Aid due 11/22

Continue work on Book Review

15 Conclusions Nov 27-Dec 4

Quiz 2 opens 11/27, due Dec 3

Book Review due Dec 1